Years ago, when most wine and spirits stores started to build websites to sell their product online, the impetus was to get new direct sales from wherever possible--often from outside their local market. Businesses would even set up sites that were distinctly branded to set them apart from their brick-and-mortar business, so they could offer separate, more aggressive pricing. Today though, with a more crowded online marketplace, opportunities have shifted, and the greater value of a website lies in providing a more useful, convenient online shopping tool for your local market.
Admittedly, it’s hard to measure the value that a website provides to your brick-and-mortar business, but heavy-hitters like Forrester and Adweek, have conducted a lot of research in this area. The most significant, key customer behavior that illustrates a measured connection is a concept called webrooming. Webrooming is best described as the opposite of showrooming. Whereas showrooming involves using a brick-and-mortar experience to gather research to buy online (the classic example is looking at a TV in-store before purchasing the same model for the best price online), webrooming involves performing all of your research online before you make a final purchase in a brick-and-mortar store.
What makes webrooming so important is that it’s incredibly prevalent. Adweek’s research suggests that two-thirds of customers engage in webrooming, and Deloitte notes that “digital interactions influence 36 cents of every $1 spent in a brick-and-mortar store.” Forrester takes it further and estimates that in 2017, webrooming will be responsible for $1.8 trillion in brick-and-mortar sales, while only $360 billion in direct eCommerce sales will take place. These figures are so staggering that even if they’re an overestimate, they indicate that webrooming is a significant behavior and is something to consider when building eCommerce solutions.
The reasons why webrooming has become so prominent have also been explored through studies--particularly by Adweek--and most of the takeaways likely will not surprise you. When asked “why would you look online for an item before going to the physical store to make a purchase?” three of the most common responses included wanting the product more immediately, wanting to physically “touch and feel” an item before buying it, and wanting to ensure an item was available before committing to a shopping trip. Though this article has spoken about eCommerce generally, it’s easy to see how these reasons relate to the wine and spirits industry. For local customers, they often want their favorite products immediately, and they want confidence that they’re getting the right item. An eCommerce website can help them gather all of the information they need before they step in the store.
When considering building an eCommerce solution or measuring the value of one, it’s important to keep in mind that, today, it’s not a separate entity whose value can be measured easily just by your direct online sales. So much more value today lies in how local consumers use your digital presence to enhance their experience with your business. Your website is a 24/7, convenient tool that can allow consumers to access you and gather information on your hours, address, items, and services at all times. But your brick-and-mortar store, is your showroom, a physical place to explore and interact. These two entities go hand-in-hand.